You were HipHopGame’s Demo of the Month back in the September of 2006. What have you been up to since then?
That was in 2006. I released little mixtapes here and there. I was doing the open mic thing and doing a lot of shows locally. I put that out and got a lot of good feedback. Obviously the HipHopGame thing happened and then immediately after that I signed to a production company which was basically a springboard label. I was signed on as a solo artist. The first project was a compilation I was working on. I completed that. Basically it was only supposed to take about a year and we hit a couple of roadblocks that I had no control over. It was executive things that were going on. It ended up getting completed about a year and a half afterwards.
So I also had the opportunity if I wanted to record a solo project. Based on how long the first project took I wanted to see what was up with this independent grind again and just get back into the organic element of making music. was basically going into the production company and trying to fit in to what somebody else’s direction was on the compilation. I think it made me better as an artist, being able to take my ideas and adapt them to somebody else’s on the compilation. At the same time it was a little bit suffocating.
It’s good to hear from your new music that you haven’t missed a beat.
Yeah, man. Without a doubt. It feels like I’m just more clear. I’m clearer headed right now with what I’m trying to accomplish with my music. I was doing all that shit leading up to Demo of the Month and then I was signing on to this production company. It was about trying to make money off of it instead of just making music that I believed in and loved. It was about having an avenue to sell records and now I’m thinking about it and I’m not going to try to follow a formula. I don’t give a shit about the glitz and the glamour. I’m not even trying to sell it. I’m just going to give it away. I’m trying to get shows popping and just have that organic feeling with the music again. I want to get in there and create music again. If you love it that’s cool and if you don’t, more tracks are coming. It’s about getting music to the fans that identified with me from the jump.
How did being Demo of the Month help your career?
I’ve been a fan of HipHopGame forever, since early 2000. I always promoted the site as a fan. Every time I heard a new Nas track or whatever, I was always putting people on. Always. It was just the craziest thing because I didn’t even know that my manager was talking to HipHopGame. He wanted it to be a surprise.
Next thing you know I’m checking HipHopGame as a fan and I see Demo of the Month and I completely bug the fuck out, no lie. I bugged the fuck out. I was calling everybody and letting them know. People were like, ‘The hard work paid off.’ HipHopGame is international and I had some fans overseas because of some work I did with producers over there, but on a national level, there was just a lot of people listening and it just kind of signified that this shit is real. Coming from upstate New York, it’s not a big city but this shit is being heard and it’s relevant. A lot of people from around here depend on somebody else to say that shit is hot. Getting Demo of the Month made it real easy for those heads to jump on. Not that I want that to happen, but it just made it real easy for that to happen.
How did your project Blood, Sweat and Rhymes album do for you?
That did real good, man. The whole purpose of that project was just really to put something out for my hardcore fans. There were no real commercial tracks on it. It’s just stuff that we independently produced. It was completely organic. There wasn’t a real avenue because it wasn’t pushed to radio but people started hitting the sites and Googling it and we just moved a decent amount of records off of that. And then it got to the point where money wasn’t even an issue. We recouped expenses on it immediately. And then it got to the point where we just wanted to get it out and we just wanted it to be heard.
Unfortunately I didn’t let that breathe long enough. I wish I would have. I jumped onto that production company before it gained enough momentum. It was one of those things where people were starting to identify with my music and it drew people in. I should have kept making that music.
There’s been some great music coming from upstate New York but overall, it seems as though there are a lot of challenges coming from up there.
Yeah. It’s crazy. It’s funny we were labeled as a freestyle spot because of the 106 and Park battles that a few of the MCs were doing and winning. There was Sincere the Great, who was on Freestyle Friday, who got retired and then my man SunN.Y. did it. And then they get that stigma that Rochester is known for freestyle artists.
But at the same time, when I think of Rochester, I think of Green Lantern. He’s a dude that came from the Roc and hustled crazy. I got fam that went to college with him and I met him personally. He was going back and forth to New York City all the time. That’s what got it for him. He was going hard. That’s what makes me think that I don’t need to be from New York City. I just need to make music that I’m comfortable with. With the internet the way it is, it doesn’t even matter where you’re from.
How have you grown as an artist since 2006?
Lyrically I’m just playing with the flows and doing things like that. The flow is going to progress naturally. I have more mature lyrical content now. I think what really is going to do it for me and where the real growth comes from is just, once again, continuing on what I had going on back in 2006. I need to keep this shit organic. I need to do what I feel is real.
A good example is what’s going on with Rick Ross. That’s getting real crazy. That kind of epitomizes what I realize I’m trying not to do. You need to be real with shit. I feel like if Rick Ross, I don’t know what his situation is as an artist. He has good music and I have no problems with it, but it seems like people create a reality around themselves and it’s not real. If that first came out with Rick Ross, I would have been like, ‘That’s me. So what?’ I have one foot in and one foot out. In my mind it would have been all good. With the music I was battling with. Do I need to make a commercial record? Do I need to make something that will make the people dance? I don’t need that shit. I’m going to do what I do.
What new artists are you feeling right now that’s not Nas or Jay-Z or Eminem? What new artists are catching your attention right now and what is it about those artists that’s catching your attention? I ask myself those questions and what makes me like those certain artists. I like artists when I believe them. When I look at something I look at the real shit.
I feel like hip-hop is basically reality entertainment and with the way shit has gone in the music industry, people feel like they need to create something that they’re not for people to identify with them and over the past two years, I realized that I don’t need to create that. I need to keep doing what I do. I smoke weed and I play Wii. I still dabble in this and that and I love women. I have a real job that I’m doing and so do millions of other people and the music that I make is going to be good enough so that all that real shit is going to make people relate to me. It’s about being yourself and not giving a fuck about what the industry thinks and not creating a fake persona that you think is going to sell.
It’s always good to hear up-and-coming artists with that mindstate.
I can’t front. Honestly it took two years. It took me working with this production company and seeing them try to understand hip-hop and try to understand record sales. I’m just sitting back and I’m like, ‘You know what? I don’t need to understand that shit. I just need to make music and I just need to put shit out and it is what it is.’ I’m not trying to create an aura or this and that. Look at Wayne, who’s about to sell two million. He’s like, ‘Fuck the record label. I’m going to drink my Sizurp because it’s me. I’m going to do drugs. I’m going to be wild and you’re going to love it and I don’t give a shit.’ That's what people are drawn to and that’s what I respect.
There’s another kid, Asher Roth. He’s a kid out of Philly. I’m using him as an example. I stumbled upon his MySpace page. The thing that stuck with me is a YouTube clip of him and his homeboys. He was talking about how he was just chilling with JD, Nelly and Akon. He was just being real about it. He wasn’t fronting like his music was so ill. He was just being a fan and keeping it real and I like that. I’m going to buy into this because he’s keeping it real. He’s being him. He’s not pretending and he’s not fronting.
What’s it going to take on your end to have fans buying into FIGS?
I think what it’s going to take is just continuously putting music out, man. Those tracks that you have, I have to find outlets like you guys that are going to give an artist like myself an opportunity to be heard and kind of just continuing on with that. It’s basically about being open in these interviews. You could ask me anything right now and I’m going to give you a real answer. It’s about not conforming. I’m going to do what I feel is hot. That’s what’s going to do it for me. And if it doesn’t then I’m going to continue. It’s persistence. I’m going to continue doing it no matter what. It’s an outlet for me. It’s almost impossible to predict what’s going to happen in this day and age.
What’s the next move for FIGS?
Basically I’m working on another independent album. I’m going to start flooding the market with tracks and just get back on the grind with doing shows. I’ve been in the studio all the time. There hasn’t really been any shows that I’ve been doing. It’s been all studio obligations. You can expect another independent album coming real soon. You can expect shows coming anywhere real soon. And I’m actually thinking about another concept album as well.
So, literally things stopped at the production company two months ago. I got in the studio probably a couple weeks after that and recorded four tracks. I hit you with three of them, so you guys are literally on the forefront of me coming back. It was literally the first thing that we did. So now, actually, just so you know, I put up a MySpace page and when I did I put it up with no crazy graphics. I have a Mii as my character. That comes from the Wii. I put a Mii character up of myself. I got the tracks up there with no skins. People can download them and listen to them.